September 16, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker
So, I was at the farmer's market a couple of weeks ago, and I ran into reader who is not named Polly as I was buying tomatoes. This happens all the time, because Polly is the person who sells tomatoes.
Polly: I keep reading your blog and thinking "better you than me".
Me: A lot of people say that.
Polly: I don't know how you keep your positive outlook.
Me: A lot of people say that, too. But I look for the little gains. Like when the spots stop itching, or we're not contagious, or whatever. There are upsides.
(There really are upsides. For example, normally I have to wait a long time in the line to buy tomatoes, but I discovered that by carefully engineering my conversation with Polly, I can clear that problem right up in a jiffy).
I am starting to worry about what would happen if bad things stopped happening to me. What would I blog about? But it's been almost a year and a half, and I never seem to run out of stuff.
Me: What about "when bad things happen to mediocre people" as a name for a blog?
Gary: There is nothing wrong with hummingbird homemaker. Everyone likes that name except you.
I do need to clear something up, though, about the Bad Things. I've had quite a few people say to me that they don't know how I stay so positive with the bed bugs, and keep being all sunny and witty instead of posting "kill me now" over and over. First of all, I can't post "kill me now" because too many of you know where I live. Also, too many "kill me now" posts, and you will be depressed too, and I don't want that because one of us has to be the grown up in this situation. It's not going to be me.
But enough people have said "How do you keep your positive attitude?" in this kind of envious confusion that I feel I need to clear something up.
I don't keep a positive attitude. I am not enduring cheerfully because I have chosen to endure. You have to endure. There's no option #2 with the bed bugs. You can't say "I give up, you win" and they get a prize and move out. It's not like that.
The being cheerful part I do choose – on the days when I'm able to –because you can only endure in panic or depression for so long. It gets boring.
But I have really hard days with this. Being itchy sucks. Trying to get to sleep sucks. Paying for treatments sucks. But the worst part is when you work all day long researching and cleaning and treating, and turn everything upside down and you put in all this effort but it's worth it because your kids who are sitting there wracked with sobs from itchiness will sleep well and they do and they wake up all bright eyed and bushy tailed and you plan to spend the day doing Fun Family Stuff…
… and then about ten o'clock the anesthetic that bed bugs use when they bite starts to wear off and their little faces and limbs start slowly blistering up like someone has put them under a broiler and you can't do anything other than watch and offer ice packs. And weigh how much of the day to spend cuddling them and taking them to the park and how much to spend cleaning and treating.
I don't write funny lighthearted stuff instead of wanting to light my house on fire. I write it because I want to light my house on fire. Like some people clean up their house for company, I clean up my whining for the blog. And, like cleaning for company, there can be a negative effect if people start comparing your public days to their private ones.
I am not Tragic Infested Hero of Great Courage. I am just Infested — and making the best of it because trying to think of what was funny or good about my day is part of what gets me through. And it reminds me how many funny or good parts there are. During the Awful Beginning when the bites were covering us head to foot and most of the cleaning needed doing, people came forward to have my kids over for days at a time, and I knew they were safe and loved and being showered with affection. And also with showers. And new clothes.
Gary took the worst shifts of bait duty, and let us sleep at the old house or in the tent. And, unlike a lot of the people who get bed bugs, we had the resources to hire, replace, dry clean, etc as needed. There are people out there doing everything I am but without any of that help — working twelve hour shifts and dealing with kids and staying up late to do all the laundry in a coin op machine. And, there are people with the kind of problems that they can't — sooner or later — count on winning the fight against. Without anywhere close to the support I am so lucky to have.
So, to all of you, thanks for your help — for the magical internet support, and for those times when some of you have seen me in person and laid a reassuring hand on my arm (or shouted encouraging things from five or six feet away). And to those of you who have just followed along, or reposted my entries to your various social media corners of the world. Watching the blog readership slowly and steadily climbing has been a total ray of sunshine for me in the last couple of months. I feel like you are cheering for me. Either that, or you are bad people who are amused by the misfortunes of others–but that seems unlikely. I choose to believe you are not on Team Bed Bug, but on Team Liz. Except for the 10% of you who found your way here by googling "Martha Stewart and Porn". Um, sorry about that.
We're almost there, though. With the bed bugs, not the porn. The days of wanting to set the house on fire are behind us. Bites are few and far between now, and there is no more ominous-midmorning-blooming-of-children's-skin. Now, a bite is dispiriting because it reminds us we aren't done, but it's no longer our whole life.
Which is good, because I will be needing your help — and you have already come through awesomely on this one — in cheering me on as I attempt to put on, take off, and wash the stupid support stockings, from my surgery. You must not snag them. You must not stretch them. You must not wash them wrong. You must not fill fill them with anthrax and send them to the varicose vein surgeon's office.
Which would be really awkward, because they would know it was me because 1) I'm pretty sure some of them read the blog, and 2) one of them is Gary. Who claims that he has no advice to offer in the anthrax department because he "doesn't know anything about that stuff"…
Me: You're a doctor!
Gary: Um, what kind of doctor do you think I am?
Me: Fine, be that way. Can I borrow your computer? When I use my own for blog research I get really weird ads on my google account.
Me: But The Internet already thinks I direct porn. And grow weed, because of all the googling about creating carbon dioxide for the bed bug traps. I can't have them thinking I'm also a terrorist.
Shockingly, this was not as convincing an argument as I thought it would be.
Me: Fine. I'll call David.
Gary: You think he knows how to use Anthrax?
Me: No, but he knows about search tags. If I'm going to post about Anthrax, I need to make sure it doesn't end up in the page tags. Or I will disappoint all the terrorists like I disappointed the porn community. Don't look at me like that. You could do worse than a wife who spends all day disappointing the porn community. I could be not disappointing them.
Gary: Hey, speaking of that, somebody told me that you were blogging about —
Me: You see, you need to learn to look on the bright side of things.
I am good at looking on the bright side of things. Because of my blog readers.